On 09 March 2022, a supersonic missile crossed the Indian border, covering a distance of 124km across the border, and crashed into Pakistan, destroying a civilian building. That was a BrahMos cruise missile, with a range of 450km, jointly developed by India and Russia. This is the first ever incident in nuclear history, wherein a missile has been fired from a nuclear state into another nuclear state.
On top of that, India remained quiet for 48 hrs after the incident; and was provoked to answer only after Pakistan’s military spokesperson went to highlight this grave incident in the media. Moreover, the supersonic missile traveling at such a higher speed can’t take 90 degrees sudden turn provided its fast speed of Mach 3. Furthermore, the timing it was launched sparks concerns of its technical maintenance; as such matters are done during the day, not in the twilight. Despite having the 2004 hotline agreement between the two countries, the so-called accidental launch had not been intimated. Moreover, if at all it was accidental, as claimed by India, normally a missile has a self-destruct system mechanism, which is controlled from the ground, and the missile could be destroyed mid-flight to prevent any damage, but certainly, it was not done. The incident is, however, a flagrant violation of Pakistani airspace. Moreover, it could have hit any passenger plane, provided it traveled at a height of 40,000 ft, and could have caused human loss as well.
India in its initial statements termed the incident as an accidental firing of the missile during routine maintenance and a technical malfunction. However, later on, the Indian government changed the narrative and termed the incident to be a ‘human error’ and set up a court of inquiry to review the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with regard to missile handling. Recently India closed the inquiry of this missile incident and stated that the deviation from SOPs by three officers led to the accidental firing of the missile.
Pakistan has rejected the purported closure of the inquiry into the case and has stated that the measures taken by India and the subsequent findings and punishments handed by the so-called internal Court of Inquiry are totally unsatisfactory, deficient, and inadequate. The matters of such grave concern, involving strategic missiles, can’t be brushed under the carpet by labeling them as mere human error. India has also not responded to several questions by Pakistan, regarding India’s command and control system, and the safety and security protocols.
As far as Indian intentions are concerned, whether it was accidental or intentional, considering the above facts and Indian aggressive counterforce posture and aggressive designs against Pakistan, this seems to be an attempt to assess Pakistan’s deterrence capabilities and nuclear response measures. Lt Gen (R) Khalid Kidwai (Former DG SPD) has recently stated that the launch was no accident as claimed slyly by India, as the launch could not have taken place without political clearance at the highest level and detailed operational and technical planning spanning over weeks. Moreover, the objective was very clear: to test Pakistan’s air defense alert levels and operational responses. India has put a technically and operationally laughable story to the world, which no serious professional would buy.
India wants to undermine Pakistan’s deterrent capabilities. This war-prone behavior of India needs to be changed as it could result in disastrous consequences. Pakistan’s military spokesperson made it very clear that Pakistan forces are alert to any threat and the challenges it face. However, this incident sparks a dire need to re-invigorate the Confidence Building Mechanism between the two nuclear South Asian countries. Moreover, an agreement similar to the Pre-Notification of Flight-Testing of Ballistic Missile should be made for cruise missile testing as well, in order to minimize the risk of nuclear-related accidents.
Also read: South Asian Strategic Stability
Pakistan has shown restraint and maturity, and prevented South Asia from serious catastrophe. If Pakistan could have retaliated, after identifying an aerial object coming from India, considering it to be an attack, the results could have been disastrous. Pakistan has always made efforts for restoring regional peace and stability, which India has always tried to destabilize due to its immature ruling authority. The political elite has always used the aggressive war-prone card against Pakistan in front of public for their political gains, without realizing the repercussions, which shows the ill-mindset of India’s ruling power.
Moreover, the world has seen numerous instances of Uranium theft in India, which indicates weak safety and security protocols and weak Command and Control structure in India to handle such precarious technology. Moreover, the chances of nuclear war increases, as in case of cannisterised weapons (warheads permanently mated with the missiles), so such negligence can’t be tolerated.
The Indian obsession of acquisition of newer technology could result in the accidental or inadvertent war in South Asia, provided its unproven capability to manage it. This proves India to be an irresponsible nuclear weapon state and the international community must look into this extremist and war-provoking country, which is also incompetent to manage nuclear and nuclear-related technology and delivery vehicles, and is thus a threat to the regional and global peace and security.